Atlanta-based SPARK is a reproductive justice organization with queer leadership. In keeping with its mission, the organization also sponsors an annual program for LGBTQ youth of color and allies ages 18-24 named FYRE — Fierce Youth Reclaiming and Empowering.
The annual program, held earlier this month, exposed youth from throughout the Southeast to the art of radio, to give them a voice to tell their own stories. But FYRE still needs funding to ensure this program continues and is hoping to raise some $3,200 in one week.
If there is one region of the country that's still struggling to come to terms with the idea of same-sex marriage, it's the South.
According to the results of a recent opinion poll conducted by CNN and research firm ORC International, the South is the only region of the country where the majority say same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry.
The Northeast and Western regions of the country overwhelmingly support marriage equality. In the Midwest, a slim majority of those polled favor granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, but in the South, some 52 percent of respondents oppose gay marriage while only 44 percent support it, by far the lowest level of support in the country.
Both tragedy and triumph have shaped and contoured the South as determinedly as the red clay dirt and the thick humidity. While African-Americans have certainly made progress, one only has to look at the HIV/AIDS rates among African-Americans in the South, particularly the Deep South, to see that there is still a considerable distance to travel.
The needle has moved yes, but so has the need. If HIV/AIDS is to be addressed among African-Americans, the South has to be prioritized.
Statistics show that African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by HIV in the United States. Despite being only 14 percent of our country's population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in that year.